Willodeen
by Applegate, Katherine; Santoso, Charles (ILT)






When the annual migration of hummingbears, a source of local pride and income, dwindles and no one knows why, Willodeen, armed with a magical birthday gift, speaks up for the animals she loves and vows to uncover this mystery. 750,000 first printing. Illustrations.





Katherine Applegate is the New York Times bestselling author of Wishtree, Crenshaw, and Home of the Brave, all from Feiwel & Friends, as well The One and Only Ivan, winner of the Newbery Medal, and its sequel The One and Only Bob. She lives in Southern California with her family.





*Starred Review* You know you're in for a treat with an Applegate fantasy, but when she dreams up hummingbears-tiny, winged bears that nest in bubbles-it's instantly catapulted into irresistible territory. For Willodeen, who happens to have a flightless hummingbear as a pet, her heart is far more occupied with the welfare of unlovable creatures, namely the widely detested screechers-a grumpy combo of skunk (odor), warthog (snout, tusks), beaver (tail), and porcupine (quills). This is, perhaps, because Willodeen herself is an outsider, preferring to spend her time alone, observing nature and helping the two women-older, but spitfires-who took her in after a terrible wildfire claimed the lives of her family. Two events force Willodeen out of her comfort zone and into the company of other townsfolk: (1) the steady, mysterious decline in hummingbear populations, and (2) the bounty placed on screechers, as a way to rid Perchance of their smelly presence. Thus, the 11-year-old comes to find her first friend, a baby screecher in need of a home, and her voice when it matters most. Applegate's gentle yet honest tale mixes magic with very real environmental messaging, both warning of human-caused harm and pointing to nature's resilience and interconnectedness. Perchance feels charmingly antiquated without being idyllic, and Applegate empowers her young characters by not only granting them courage but also ensuring they earn the respect of their elders.HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: Adored and acclaimed, Applegate has been given a 750k first print run for this release. That's a lot of hummingbears! Grades 3-5. Copyright 2021 Booklist Reviews.





An orphan loner's small town faces a hard future after it unwittingly disrupts a natural cycle. Willodeen is lucky that elderly retired thespians Mae and Birdie took her in after the wildfire that killed her parents and brother, not only because they're a loving couple, but because they let her roam the woods in search of increasingly rare screechers-creatures so vile-tempered and stinky that the village elders of Perchance have put a bounty on them. The elders have other worries, though: The migratory hummingbears that have long nested in the area, drawing tourists to the lucrative annual Autumn Faire, have likewise nearly vanished. Could there be a connection? If there is, Willodeen is just the person to find it-but who would believe her? Applegate's characters speak in pronouncements about life and nature that sometimes seem to address readers more than other characters, but the winsome illustrations lighten the thematic load. Screechers appear much like comically fierce warthogs and hummingbears, as small teddies with wings. Applegate traces a burgeoning friendship between her traumatized protagonist and Connor, a young artist who turns found materials into small animals so realistic that one actually comes to life. In the end, the townsfolk do listen and pitch in to make amends. Red-haired, gray-eyed Willodeen is cued as White; Connor has brown skin, and other human characters read as White by default. The young folk and (of course) the animals are engagingly wrought in this tale with a strong ecological message. (Eco-fantasy. 8-12) Copyright Kirkus 2021 Kirkus/BPI Communications. All rights reserved.





An orphan loner's small town faces a hard future after it unwittingly disrupts a natural cycle. Willodeen is lucky that elderly retired thespians Mae and Birdie took her in after the wildfire that killed her parents and brother, not only because they're a loving couple, but because they let her roam the woods in search of increasingly rare screechers-creatures so vile-tempered and stinky that the village elders of Perchance have put a bounty on them. The elders have other worries, though: The migratory hummingbears that have long nested in the area, drawing tourists to the lucrative annual Autumn Faire, have likewise nearly vanished. Could there be a connection? If there is, Willodeen is just the person to find it-but who would believe her? Applegate's characters speak in pronouncements about life and nature that sometimes seem to address readers more than other characters, but the winsome illustrations lighten the thematic load. Screechers appear much like comically fierce warthogs and hummingbears, as small teddies with wings. Applegate traces a burgeoning friendship between her traumatized protagonist and Connor, a young artist who turns found materials into small animals so realistic that one actually comes to life. In the end, the townsfolk do listen and pitch in to make amends. Red-haired, gray-eyed Willodeen is cued as White; Connor has brown skin, and other human characters read as White by default. The young folk and (of course) the animals are engagingly wrought in this tale with a strong ecological message. (Eco-fantasy. 8-12) Copyright Kirkus 2021 Kirkus/BPI Communications. All rights reserved.






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